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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Taking a Bite Outta the Big Apple

New York City was amazing and I think I did as much of it as possible in a week with my friend turned tour guide Lisa.

I had some time Friday morning, before the wedding rehearsal and dinner that night, so I took the hour long train ride into Penn Station where we met up to head uptown a bit to see the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

We only had a few hours to run through the hundreds upon hundreds of pieces of art, but I’m really happy we did it and can definitely put it down as one of my favorite New York City spots. I loved every minute of it and could’ve spent days in this massive museum.

I know we missed things too, like the Egyptian exhibit, but I’m alright with that too since it gives me a plenty good reason to go back now.

The dress rehearsal that night was a lot of fun; interrupted by a fire in the basement of the Madison Hotel in Convent Station, New Jersey, where the wedding was to be held the next day.

The wedding the next day was just as much fun. It was a lovely ceremony that was followed by an excellent reception. And once that was done, since it was a day time ceremony, everyone moved on to various bars for more good times.

Instead of staying at the Madison another night I opted to move to the Holiday Inn at Newark International Airport. It was a lot less expensive and much closer to the city. And even though I had to make one more trip back into down to the wedding area for a brunch the next day, I was happy for the move for convenience purposes for the rest of the week.

The Holiday Inn was just like any other Holiday Inn I’ve stayed at, but I wasn’t terribly happy with my stay either. I kept having room key issues, which they blamed on the security machines at different sites, and the shuttle to and from the airport was never terribly punctual.

The rooms were fine, but not nearly as nice as the Madison, and I overall wouldn’t really have a problem staying there again. Given the option though, I think I’d probably stay in the city next time though for the sake of convenience and experience.

That day next day, after the brunch, I had arranged to meet Lisa again at Penn Station. So after her race volunteering, and chance meeting with Kevin Bacon in the morning, we met up again for another day of sightseeing.

We first went to the Empire State Building where we found absolutely no lines. We made it straight to the top without having to stop.

The views from up the 86th floor were amazing and well worth the $20 admission. Although, I wouldn’t say the same for the extra $15 it costs you if you want to go to the 102nd floor. It’s not much different up there, other than that it’s enclosed by glass, and not really worth the extra money.

The Empire State Building was definitely a favorite stop of mine and I could’ve spent a lot longer up there walking around and checking out the views. But since there’s so much to see and do in NYC, we had to limit it to the strong hour we had on top of the deck and, probably, the two hours total we spent with everything there.

Lisa suggested that we go check out Little Italy and Chinatown (right) from there, so we hopped the train towards downtown to find a couple of nice neighborhoods where we were able to sample some great food. And sample several slices of pizza I did.

We had a nice walk through of the neighborhoods, but decided tohead back up to Times Square to meet up with a couple of the bridesmaids from the wedding to hang out for some drinks for a bit.

Times Square was very underwhelming, and I was no where near becoming a fan by hanging out there any longer, so Lisa took me over to one of her favorite local bars, Rudy’s, where they severe some nasty beer called Pork Slap Ale and give you free hot dogs to boot. I was an immediate fan, but the girls were calling so we headed back to Times Square, where we found a slice of home in Famous Dave’s for a couple of drinks.

The next day started out quite interestingly with my cabbie encounter, but in the long run was a pretty good day. I had a lot of fun seeing the Statue of Liberty (above) and Ellis Island (below), even though the rain was whipping up around us with some pretty heavy winds.

We made it through both places though none-the-worse-for-ware, and had a great time seeing the exhibit at Ellis Island. We could’ve spent a great deal more time there, but we were quite pushed back on time due to the cabbie encounter I had in the morning, so we had to head out after a couple of hours in order to get the the Museum of Modern Art before Lisa had to head to work.

I liked some of the art at the MoMA. It’s hard not to when there’s so many Picasso’s (left), Rothko’s, Pollock’s and the such. There’s lots of great works there. I think I would’ve appreciated it more though had we done it before going to the Met. The Met has so many amazing works that it really overshadowed everything we saw in the MoMA.

Unfortunately we were able to spend only a small amount of time there together since Lisa had to leave for work about an hour after our arrival. I stayed for another hour or so and strolled through the halls before catching a cab to head down to Madison Square Garden for the NY Rangers playoff hockey game against the Washington Capitals.

It was the first home playoff game for the team this year and the place was electric. And it was quite exciting to be there for it all. I had amazing seats, about a dozen rows up in the corner, and loved every minute of it. Unfortunately for the hometeam though, they got smoked 4-0.

Both Lisa and I needed a bit of a delayed wake up call the next day, my final full day in New York, since we were both quite tired and sore from all of the walking we had done.

So after sleeping in a bit we met up again and headed over to tour the United Nations. I really can’t recommend this tour enough. The price was just right, the guide was unbelievably knowledgeable, and it was an overall great experience to be some place that I’ve seen on television so many times…the UN’s general assembly chambers.

This is definitely an underrated experience from what I read in the guidebooks and I would recommend it hands down to anyone. Be forewarned though that the ticket line could be quite slow, and long, since there’s only spots for a couple of ticket agents at the desk. Thankfully though, as it so happened through the whole trip, we lucked out and didn’t run into anything too seriously long or tedious.

We grabbed a dog and a knish on our way to the Guggenheim and spent about as much time eating them as we did inside the museum itself. All but two of the floors were closed because of renovations, and since the display on each floor is limited anyway, it took us all of about 30 minutes to breeze through there.

I was quite disappointed by my experience at the Guggenheim. There wasn’t much on exhibit to the public, and what was on display was nowhere near as good as the Met, once again. Thankfully there was a reduced admission due to all of the problems, otherwise I would’ve truly been upset by my experience. It was already bad enough that we couldn’t take pictures inside like we could at all of the other museums.

There was one really big benefit of spending so little time in the Guggenheim, and that was that we had more time to spend strolling through Central Park.

If given the opportunity to only do one thing in all of New York on a visit, I’d say that I’d spend it walking through Central Park for hours on end. I absolutely loved the contrast that it offered to the city and had an amazing time exploring the paths of the park, both with Lisa and on my own once she had to leave for work.

It really was something else. And if I were a New Yorker myself, I’d make it a point to go there at least weekly, if not more. It’s the perfect place to get away from everything and just relax as though you’re in a totally different world from everything else around you. I really can’t speak highly enough of it and would go back in a heart beat to do it again.

In between strolls through the park, I headed over to see the American Museum of Natural History. Yes, the one from the Ben Stiller movie Night at the Museum. After recalling the movie, and that there’s a second one coming out, I couldn’t really help but go over there for a quick run through of the place to see if any of the exhibits were as they showed in the movie.

I didn’t have time to really do the museum justice, that would’ve taken all day, but I got a good feel for it and saw some of the exhibits that were shown in the movie. A lot weren’t there, or acurately portrayed, especially since there isn’t a T-Rex in the lobby of the museum as shown in the movie, but it was all fairly right on…especially in the land of Hollywood.

In terms of the museum itself, I can definitely see why the guidebook gave it top marks. It’s a great place to spend a day, especially if it’s raining outside, and even moreso if kids are along. They can spend hours in there with so many hands on exhibits that it’s insane.

And the dinosaur hall on the top floor? Well, don’t even get me going on that. I could’ve spent a whole day up there on my own it was so amazing…and I’m not even a dino buff.

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